If you’re sitting here reading this it’s because your practice may be trying to solve the single-biggest problem to anyone who has worked in a medical office: helping to address the ever vexing problem of predicting and addressing patient no-shows.
Studies have found that no-shows cost the U.S. healthcare system more than $150 billion a year and individual physicians an average of $200 per unused time slot. After all, whether or not patients show up, medical practices still have to pay their staff and cover expenses like rent and the cost of equipment.
So how can you reduce these no-show rates? Well, just give us a couple more minutes of your time and keep reading, because we’ve listed 8 ways that just may help reduce your medical practices no-show rates- and fast!
1) Use automated patient appointment reminders
If you’re not already doing this, it’s time to! Perhaps the most effective and simplest strategy for reducing patient no-show rates, is sending appointment reminders.
Automated appointment reminders help bring down patient no-show rates and boost appointment confirmations. And by leveraging automated text reminders, it will ultimately increase patient attendance via better scheduling and slot utilization.
While email outreach is successful on its own, when paired with text appointment reminders it makes your strategy that much more bidirectional — meaning patients can text you back — which gives patients a chance to confirm their appointment, get directions, ask questions, and adequately prepare for their appointment.
2) Use the patient’s preferred method of contact
Now this seems like an obvious one right? Well, you’d be surprised to know that this is one that is overlooked often.
Patients of all ages now use technology in every facet of their lives and expect more than robo-dialers, or one-way email and text systems from their providers. They want the convenience of choosing their preferred channel to communicate whether it be text messaging, phone, or email.
Always ask your patients their preferred method of contact for appointment reminders and other patient outreach.
By using both text, email and phone call reminders you cross all your t’s and dot all your i’s to make sure the individual is receiving and responding to the messages your practice sends out.
3) Text patients to reschedule
Sometimes patients do have to miss an appointment whether it’s due to work, family life, or an emergency. Life happens! The important thing is to be proactive about it right away.
If a patient misses an appointment, reach out to these individuals right away with an invitation to reschedule. Encourage them to text back or contact the office staff.
There are software features available that allow patients the ability to reschedule a medical appointment at their convenience.
Professional marketing agencies like ModFXMedia come in handy because they use software features and other services bundled together to streamline and constantly monitor the lead generation process, which greatly helps to reduce and eliminate patient no-shows.
4) Offer digital check-in and updates on scheduling issues
Healthcare consumers are busy people, so asking them to repeatedly wait long periods of time before an appointment may turn them into no-shows. Eventually, they may also become a lost patient if they find another provider who they perceive values their time more. To save administrative time, many providers are continuing virtual waiting rooms options that were created during the COVID pandemic. Or some practices are now turning to a hybrid version of this.
By offering patients a touchless or digital check-in process, this will allow patients to pre-register and complete any screenings or paperwork before their appointments.
For up-to-date information, bidirectional texting allows patients and the medical staff to quickly communicate if there are any scheduling or time issues.
It’s also important for staff to be constantly trained on how to interact with patients in the office while the individual is waiting.
Simply keeping a patient updated if their appointment is running behind shows the patient that your office cares enough about their time. If they do have to leave, ask to reschedule their appointment right away or send out a text reminder the following day to have the patient call to reschedule as soon as possible.
5) Reduce the time between scheduling an appointment and the actual appointment
How else can your practice improve no-show rates? You have to cut down on the waiting time for your patients to get an appointment. Whether it’s reducing no-show rates in primary care or in specialized practice, patients want faster access to doctors, information, and medical services.
Spending a significant amount of time in between appointments waiting to see their doctor can be a frustrating experience to say the least. So if a practice wants to reduce these no-show appointments, that means providers need to keep the waiting time short for their patients. Unfortunately, the problem is a bit of a chicken-and-egg scenario. Long wait times to see a provider increases no-shows, and no-shows contribute to longer wait times for other patients.
It is possible to reduce the time between patient scheduling and appointments for an entire practice if delays are identified and the scheduling process is optimized. You can do this by working with a professional medical marketing agency like ModFXMedia to help optimize the appointment and scheduling process. While also using software to help pinpoint the causes of these delays.
After using those resources a practice can then revamp their scheduling procedure and successfully cut down their average waiting time significantly.
If wait times are significantly reduced, it will result in a positive experience for patients and significantly contribute to reducing patient no-show rates.
If a practice is dealing with habitual no-show patients, try offering same-day or next-day appointments.
6) Help patients understand the need for the appointment
One reason patient no-show rates remain high is that patients don’t understand the purpose of the visit. Only 12 percent of US adults have proficient health literacy, and a staggering 77 million adults have basic or below basic health literacy. This results in patients not adhering to treatment plans — including attending their scheduled visits.
One of the effective strategies to reduce no-show rates is to make information and health education accessible to patients, particularly in complex medical situations.
In addition, providers can also communicate instructions and information prior to a visit or procedure to help patients prepare and empower them to show up to their doctor’s office.
Research published in the journal Medscape General Medicine recommended five steps for changing patient beliefs and behavior as they relate to following treatment plans and attending appointments which we’ve listed for you below.
Educate your patients so they:
- Recognize the risk of not adopting a healthy behavior
- Educate them on the Price of Health and all fees before the appointment
- Perceive their condition as serious
- Believe in the positive effects of the suggested treatment
- Can address their fears and concerns
- Believe they can complete the treatment plan
7) Calm patient fears
Another way to reduce no-show appointments is to calm your patients and address their fears.
Fear fuels patient no-show rates since patients may fear bad test results, getting on the scale, or uncomfortable procedures. Whatever the reason, fear keeps patients from following through with their scheduled appointments.
A lot of people feel anxious because they fear the unknown, and this lets their imagination run wild.
It’s not uncommon for a no-show to be due to someone imagining a worst-case scenario, when in fact going for an annual check-up is the best prevention.
By addressing this fear factor with new patients it’s a big step towards reducing no-show appointments. A provider can do this before a patient’s visit. Give new patients the option to speak with someone at the office about their anxiety before a visit.
Having a live representative on your website can also help with this.
If providers can initiate this type of conversation by asking patients how they feel about an upcoming test or visit, they can reinforce their role as not only a provider but also as an advocate and an ally. This can vastly help decrease no-show rates.
8) Send follow-up messages
Automating thank you messages to show your patients appreciation for keeping their appointments acknowledges their time is valuable and helps build patient loyalty.
You can also include additional information in the post-appointment thank-you message for referrals, medication, and any other types of follow-up.
If all this seems like a lot, that’s because it is! But the practices that take the time to incorporate these suggestions will greatly reduce no-shows, build loyalty, receive more 5 star online reviews, and get more word of mouth referrals. But you don’t have to put forth this complex strategy all on your own!
Practices aspire to dominate their local market so ModFXMedia works closely with each provider to help with lead generation, no-show solutions, determine your practice’s niche and areas of opportunity. We also work hard with your practice to promote your expertise to an audience that is trying to find your services.
With our proven experience executing medical marketing strategies, your practice will receive a boost in website traffic, in new patient visits, a decrease in no-shows and an increase in revenue.
While you’re here check out another one of our blogs about How Hiring A Medical Marketing Agency Can Help Your Practice
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